Surveying Pragmatic Performance During a Study Abroad Stay: A Cross-sectional Look at the Language of Spoken Requests
This paper documents a cross-sectional look at L1 transfer and L2 contact for learners of English in a UK study abroad (SA) context. The study employed an instructional experimental design over a 6-month period with 34 Chinese students assigned to either an explicitly instructed group or a control group receiving no instruction. Instruction took place prior to departure for the UK and performance was measured based on a pretest-posttest design using an oral computer-animated production test (CAPT). This paper explores the data in two specific ways. Firstly, the request data were analysed at the pre-and delayed test stages (six months into the study abroad period) to analyse the extent to which participants’ reliance on L1 request strategies and language changes over time. Secondly, we measured the amount and type of contact with English which participants reported prior to and six months into the study abroad period. Results show that instruction facilitated development of pragmatically appropriate request language over time, with instructed learners showing significantly less reliance on L1 transfer than non-instructed learners. Contact with English increased significantly for both groups on all measures of language production but not all receptive contact with English. When compared, there was no significant difference between the groups’ contact with English at each stage, suggesting that instruction did not result in significantly more interaction with English during the study abroad period.
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